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Wisconsin was experiencing some frigid temperatures this week with reports of near minus 30 degrees in the Northwoods Thursday morning. Temperatures are forecast to moderate some for the weekend, before dropping again next week.
With the exception of the far north that received several inches of snow last weekend, most of the state has not received any significant snow and snowmobile and ski conditions remain unchanged on the Wisconsin Department of Tourism's Snow Conditions Report (exit DNR). Snowmobile trails are open in the far northern counties with conditions from poor to very good. Ski trails are open across most of the state, but trails in the south have become hard and windblown, with a lot of debris being reported and some bare spots. Trails in the north generally remain in good condition. Candlelight events will be held this weekend at Devil's Lake and Governor Thompson state parks.
With the colder temperatures in the last week, ice depths have been slowly increasing and most lakes across the north are now in the 15 to 18-inch range. Access conditions have remained a bit difficult, with high winds blowing snow around and creating some deeper drifts. The die-hard walleye and panfish anglers have continued to venture out and most are experiencing some variable success.
The cold temperatures and high winds also limited fishing activity on Green Bay and Lake Michigan. Whitefish continued to be the dominant catch with some limits reported along the east shore of Green Bay and some being caught off Marinette on the west shore.
Wednesday marked the final day of the 2015 sturgeon spear fishery on the Winnebago System Upriver Lakes. The season closed with a harvest of 288 fish and 59.5 percent of license holders successful. Nine fish tipped the scales at more than 100 pounds. The five-day season is on par with the average season on the Upriver Lakes. There were 152 fish harvested from Lake Winnebago Wednesday and 135 Thursday bringing the season total to 1,582. Thursday's harvest of 52 adult females didn't quite get the season to the 90 percent closure mark and the season will continue at least through Friday. A harvest of 94 or more adult females Friday would close down the fishery. A total of five fish over 100 pounds were harvested Thursday.
The capture phase of Wisconsin's 2015 elk reintroduction effort is now complete, with 28 elk awaiting transport to a new home in Jackson County. Captured elk are currently being held in pen in Kentucky, where they will be closely monitored and receive daily care. They will undergo a stringent 120-day quarantine and health testing period, which will include an acclimation period in Wisconsin, before being released in and around the Black River State Forest. This is a multi-year effort, with an overall goal of bringing up to 150 elk from Kentucky. As many as 75 elk will help start a new elk herd in Jackson County, while remaining elk will help bolster the current elk herd near Clam Lake.
Turkeys have been breaking out of their large flocks into male and female groups in preparation for the spring breeding season. Due to the frozen conditions ducks and other waterfowl are very concentrated in open water areas such as below dams and aerated ponds so now is still a great time to see them in their bright breeding plumage and watch their courtship rituals.
Elk Trapping Update - Wisconsin elk capture effort complete in Kentucky
The 2015 capture phase of Wisconsin's elk reintroduction effort is now complete, with 28 elk awaiting transport to a new home in Jackson County. Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources staff spent roughly four weeks working cooperatively with Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources and other key partners to capture elk in eastern Kentucky. In this first year of elk trapping, Wisconsin staff has laid a solid foundation for future capture efforts. Collaboration between Wisconsin and Kentucky created a great opportunity to learn from one another regarding elk management and trapping techniques. "Staff from both states were very aware that this project is funded as a result of support from partner organizations, and we made every effort to run a cost efficient program," said Mike Zeckmeister, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources northern district wildlife supervisor and elk trapping team leader. Captured elk are currently being held in a 4-acre pen in Kentucky, where they will be closely monitored and receive daily care. They will undergo a stringent 120-day quarantine and health testing period, which will include an acclimation period in Wisconsin, before being released in and around the Black River State Forest in Jackson County. Barring any unforeseen problems or health testing issues, release should occur in early June. This is a multi-year effort, with an overall goal of bringing up to 150 elk from Kentucky. As many as 75 elk will help start a new elk herd in Jackson County, while remaining elk will help bolster the current elk herd near Clam Lake. Those interested in receiving email updates regarding elk in Wisconsin can sign up to receive brief updates and other information. Visit dnr.wi.gov and click on the email icon near the bottom of the page for "subscribe for updates for DNR topics," then follow the prompts and select the "Elk in Wisconsin" distribution list. For more information, visit dnr.wi.gov and search keyword "elk." - Sawyer Briel, communications specialist, Madison
Superior DNR Service Center area
Brule River State Forest - Winter in the Brule River State Forest continues to be cold but less snowy than normal. As of Feb. 16, snow cover in the Brule area was about 11 inches. The Afterhours Ski Trail remains in very good condition, with about a 4 inch packed base. On Feb. 28, the trail will host the 20th annual River View Loppet Ski and Snowshoe Race. Registration is from 7:30-9 a.m. at the Brule Town Hall, race starts at 10 a.m. This race is sponsored jointly by the Brule Valley Ski Club, the Brule River State Forest, and the Brule Lions Club. For info and entry form, click link or call 218-590-3051 or 218-348-5200. Snowmobile Trails in Douglas County vary from poor in the southwest to good in the Brule Area. In Bayfield County, conditions vary depending on the trails, but are reported as good in the Cable Area: Snow Conditions Report | Snowmobile Trails | Travel Wisconsin. Even though summer seems a long way off, the camping season is coming soon. The Brule River State Forest is now offering reservable campsites through Reserve America. Twenty of the Forest's 37 campsites are now reservable from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend. To make a reservation, visit reserve America. - Dan Kephart; ranger-assistant manager
Spooner DNR Service Center area
Burnett County - The Grantsburg area is coated with a thin blanket of white, approximately 2 to 4 inches of snow on the ground. Most snowmobile trails in the area are closed. Ice conditions vary across the county with most lakes having 20 to 25 inches of ice. Use caution when traveling on any frozen lakes. Panfishing on area lakes has been slow over the last few weeks but will improve with warmer temperatures. - Christopher Spaight conservation warden, Grantsburg
Crex Meadows State Wildlife Area - Visitors are starting to see signs of spring. Horned larks are around. A golden eagle was seen over Upper North Fork. A sharp-tailed grouse was near the farm fields. Winter birds like snow buntings, northern shrikes and common redpolls are still present in numbers. - Kristi Pupak, natural resources educator
Park Falls DNR Service Center area
Upper Chippewa Basin fisheries report (Price, Rusk, Sawyer Taylor and inland Ashland and Iron counties) - With the colder temperatures in the last week, ice depths have been slowly increasing and most lakes across the North are now in the 15- to 18-inch range for ice thickness. Access conditions have remained a bit difficult, as the numerous light snowfalls and high winds have been blowing the snow around and creating some deeper drifts. As such, most anglers are sticking to the packed or plowed trails. The cold and windy weather of the past week has kept fishing pressure at a relatively low level. The die-hard walleye and panfish anglers have continued to venture out and most are experiencing some variable success. The regular walleye ice anglers have reported a little spike up in action, as the longer daylight hours seem to have increased fish activity. The best bite has occurred in the late afternoon hours, and a few decent catches have been made on medium suckers or XL fatheads in 6 to 10 feet of water near the deep break lines and the mud/muck flats. Most of the walleye have been in the 12- to 15-inch size, but a few up near 20 inches have also been reported. Panfish success has continued to be inconsistent and these anglers have been moving around quite a bit - both lake to lake, and from spot to spot on a lake. Active fish have been hard to come by, with each hole often producing only one or two fish before the angler has to move on to the next hole. Overall catches have been low, and anglers have had to work to bring home a decent bag of 8 to 10 fish. The crappie that have been caught are being found in deep water and suspended 2 to 4 feet off the bottom, and the perch have been just off the bottom on the mud flats in 4 to 10 feet of water. - Skip Sommerfeldt, senior fisheries biologist, Park Falls
Flambeau River State Forest - The area is experiencing some very frigid temperatures and started the morning of Feb. 19 with minus 27. We have about 10-12 inches of snow on the ground. We are starting to see a few signs that spring is around the corner as we are hearing phoebes, eagles are nesting, and cardinals, the earliest songbird breeders to nest, are nesting as well. Fox & coyotes are entering their mating season and we are seeing pine siskins in the area. Ski trails were groomed last Thursday, Feb. 12, and we've had a couple of inches since then. We are planning on grooming and setting track on Friday, Feb. 20 so they should be in good shape, but they are forecasting snow again for Friday. Please join us at the new Flambeau River State Forest headquarters on Saturday, March 7 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. for a screening of Green Fire to help celebrate Aldo Leopold Weekend. Discussion will follow the 70 minute video as well as reading of selected passages from A Sand County Almanac. Feel free to bring a copy of the book if you have one. Home baked treats and refreshments will be provided. For more information contact Ron Weber at 715-353-2993. - Judy Freeman, visitor services associate
Woodruff DNR Service Center area
Northern Highland-American Legion State Forest - Snow depths in the woods are between 12 and 16 inches. Ice thickness on lakes varies widely this year. Some lakes only have 12 inches of ice but only 7-9 inches is clear dark and solid. Other lakes have 16-18 inches of ice but a good portion of that is cloudy and white which usually means it has less strength. In general, lake and stream levels are near normal for this time of year. There are lakes that went into winter at or below normal and a few that had slightly higher than normal water levels so similar to the ice conditions lake and stream levels vary. This is a good time for forest visitors to find out who their "real" neighbors by strapping on some snowshoes or skis and getting out to look at tracks in the snow. With a little sleuthing visitors will see what they have been up to. A recent cross-country on the Escanaba trail revealed more than ten different types of tracks. The wing prints of an owl or hawk that landed on a hunt for a meal were visible in the soft snow. The playful otter track is most unusual. They slip and slide through the woods, seemingly far from water, which makes one wonder where they are going. A fisher not weighing very much, made light tracks across the marsh in search of some lunch. Squirrels are digging holes finding their cache from the fall. A pack of coyotes followed a family of deer, footprint on footprint. The woodpeckers are drumming in the trees trying to attract a mate or staking out territory. Backyard birdfeeders are seeing the usual winter visitors like chickadees, woodpeckers, and nuthatches, along with visitors from the far north, red polls. A least weasel with its beautiful white winter coat has also been seen moving around the trunks of the pine trees, and sometimes chasing red squirrels, near the Crystal Lake Ranger Station. There are currently two campsites plowed at Clear Lake for winter campers. Use has been very light, so come on out - campers will likely have the campgrounds to themselves. Portions of the roadways in Clear Lake and Crystal Lake Campgrounds are plowed for winter walkers to have a safe place to walk out of the snow. - Kimberly Krawczyk, visitor services associate
High winds over the weekend had left much leafy debris in the cross-counatry ski trail tracks. Regular grooming and cutting up the old track helped to reduce the impact on the trails. Madeline Trail had all loops tracked Feb. 12 and is in very good condition. McNaughton, Escanaba and Raven trails were groomed Feb. 16 and are in good condition. - Tony Martinez, forestry facilities worker
Northern Lake Michigan fisheries team report
Below zero temperatures and high winds reduced the number of anglers this past week to only a few, in many places there was no one.
Marinette County - Whitefish were still being caught out of the Little River Boat Launch, fishing the Trout Bar; jigs and minnow heads have been working the best. Pike anglers around the Peshtigo Harbor area report fishing has been slow. Walleye anglers fishing the Menominee River by the Dam at Hattie Street were having some success jigin stick baits or small spoons tipped with minnow heads, the best fishing times have been during periods of low light, early mornings and evenings. - Kevin King, fisheries technician, Peshtigo
Oconto County - Geano Beach anglers report fishing has been slow with a few walleye, and white fish being caught on the reef south of the landing; weather this past week was a problem. Anglers were reporting some perch being caught at the Sucker Hole off the mouth of the Oconto River. Pike were still being caught in 4 to 12 feet of water along the shore line from Oconto Breakwater Park to Oconto Park II. The bite has been slow. - Kevin King, fisheries technician, Peshtigo
Brown County - Anglers report a few walleye and the occasional whitefish or perch were being caught at Voyageur Park, but anglers expect fishing to pick up in the next couple of weeks or as soon as the weather starts to warm. Success at Voyageur is coming in 9 to 16 feet of water using jigs and minnows. Perch and walleye catches have been limited at Long Tail and anglers were attributing this to the time of year, saying late February and early March should begin to produce fish again. - Kevin King, fisheries technician, Peshtigo
Door County - The cold temperatures seemed to keep anglers off the ice this week but those that braved the weather had high success out of Stone Quarry for whitefish, with many limits being reported. There are large snow drifts in and around the entrance to the harbor here so take caution when accessing the ice. A few shacks were seen in the canal this weekend between the Hwy 57 Bridge and the Oregon St Bridge. Anglers were seen accessing the ice in the early morning by Birmingham's but no interviews were conducted at this location. Anglers were seen fishing off of Bullhead Point and using ATVs to access the ice at Potawatomi Park early in the week but no interviews were conducted. Remember to use caution when on the ice as the ice may shift or cracks form at any time from the high winds and varying temperatures. Always check the local conditions before venturing out on the unfamiliar ice.
- Emily Kurszewski, fisheries technician, Sturgeon Bay
Brown and Kewaunee counties - The cold temperatures and cloudy waters have kept anglers away from the Bayshore and Dyckesville area. A few anglers were seen at Volk's Landing, Bayshore Park and Red River Park. Anglers in Dyckesville were reporting a tough bite for whitefish but said they were able to see fish on their cameras. Anglers at Chaudoirs Dock were using ATVs to access their fishing spots and have had mixed success this week in deeper waters. At Sugar Creek anglers are still reporting a strong bite for whitefish and limits are being reported. Here many anglers are using ATVs or sleds to access the ice but some anglers are driving out as well. - Emily Kurszewski, fisheries technician, Sturgeon Bay
Peshtigo DNR Service Center area
Peshtigo River State Forest - The Peshtigo River State Forest provides an annual work plan to interested stakeholders and local units of government on planned management activities on the state forest. The 2015 work plan is now available for public review and comment (we are accepting comments until March 31, 2015). Please browse the Peshtigo River State Forest home page for more information. If you have any questions, please contact Sara Pearson, forest superintendent at 715-757-3965. - Sara Pearson, Ranger/Assistant Manager
Governor Thompson State Park - The cross-country ski trails are open and groomed for both classic and skate skiers. Trail conditions are good to very good and last groomed Feb. 12. There will be a candlelight ski and hike on Feb. 21 from 6-9 p.m..Ice fishermen are frequenting the south bay. - Maggie Kailhofer, park manager
Sturgeon Bay DNR Service Center area
Peninsula State Park - Peninsula has varying snow depths up to 4 inches. Icy, slippery conditions exist all over the park. Cross-country ski trails are in poor condition. Trails are not groomed at this time due to lack of snow. Snowmobile trails are open. - Jane Barnowsky, visitor services associate
Whitefish Dunes State Park - Cross-country ski trails are in fair to good condition. Recent grooming and track resetting done on February 17, but not enough snow to groom trails closest to Clark Lake. Little debris on trails with the gusty winds this week. Ski trails are groomed for classic skiing only. No dogs, hikers or bikers on the ski trails (Red, Yellow and Green). With the warmer weather lots of wildlife sightings such as porcupines up in trees, an eagle sighting, red-bellied woodpeckers, pileated woodpeckers and downy woodpeckers at the bird feeders. - Jaclyn Moeri, visitor services associate
Wautoma DNR Service Center area
Waupaca County - Another polar vortex arriving for the week, supposed to be bitter cold until the weekend. Only about 4 inches of snow on the ground right now. Snowmobile trails still not open, X-country ski trails are groomed but not in very good condition. Very little snow predicted in the near term forecast. Very little ice fishing pressure as of late and no update to report. I suspect many serious anglers are trying to get their sturgeon right now. One of our staff sighted a snowy owl in Waushara Co. this week. Deer and turkeys have been actively feeding during mid-day hours as of late. Has been a relatively easy winter on the critters to date. - Karl Kramer, wildlife technician, Wautoma
Waushara County - Waushara County snowmobile trails are still for the most part closed and don't look to be improving anytime soon. There are a couple of connector trails west of Coloma, WI that are open into Adams County trails, but they are in poor condition and could close at any time. Operators are reminded to always contact the Snowmobile hotline at 920-787-0411 before they head out on the trails. Ice conditions seem to be good throughout the county even though fishing has been slow in the last week or so. Folks are reminded to always check with the local bait shops or other anglers on current ice conditions as they can change in a hurry especially the closer we get to spring. Turkeys throughout the county have been seen breaking out of their large flocks into male and female groups in preparation for the spring breeding season. It appears it may be a little too early for any shed hunters out there as multiple bucks have been seen with antlers still in tacked, but it shouldn't be too long now until they start to drop. Stay warm, hopefully this is the last of the cold for this winter! - Ben Mott, conservation warden, Wautoma
Oshkosh DNR Service Center area
Lake Winnebago System sturgeon spearing update - Wednesday marked the final day of the 2015 spear fishery on the Upriver Lakes. The season closed with a harvest of 288 fish (59.5 percent of license holders), including nine fish tipping the scales at more than 100 pounds. The five-day season is on par with the average season on the Upriver Lakes since the lottery fishery was implemented in 2007. The 152 fish harvested from Lake Winnebago Wednesday brought the season total to 1,447 fish. Thursday's harvest of 52 adult females didn't quite get the season to the 90 percent closure mark and the season will continue at least through Friday. Spearers did get closer to the 100 percent season closure mark and it will be a close call on whether the season continues into Saturday. It will come down to how much effort increases with tomorrow being a Friday and a little better forecasted weather day. A harvest of 94 or more adult females Friday would close down the fishery, whereas a harvest of 11-93 adult females would add one more day (Saturday) to the fishery on Lake Winnebago. The largest fish harvested Thursday was Andrew Gorecki's 114.2 pound, 74.2-inch sturgeon registered at Payne's Point (photo). A total of five fish over 100 pounds were harvested Thursday. - Ryan Koenigs, Winnebago System sturgeon biologist, Oshkosh
Milwaukee DNR Service Center area
Havenwoods State Forest - Contrary to first impressions, Havenwoods is not frozen in time. Even as wind chills dip in the danger zone, signs of spring are waiting to be discovered. Watch for mating pairs of coyotes and foxes. They are being seen in the central open grassland in late afternoon and early evening. Great horned owls are nesting in the south woods. And, the chickadees are still calling their spring "Fee-Bee" calls. When the wind is calm, come for a walk to discover how plants and animals survive the chill. Borrow snowshoes (available in the nature center) when snow cover is sufficient. Then you can do some serious winter exploring. Trails are in good winter condition. Cross-country skiers are welcome, but trails are not groomed. - Beth Mittermaier, natural resources educator
Kettle Moraine State Forest, Lapham Peak Unit - All trails remain snow covered and skiable. The entire trail system was groomed Wednesday evening. The man made loop was tilled on Sunday night so skate skiers will find excellent conditions throughout although there is some wash-boarding caused by continuous grooming and hard pack conditions off the man made. A new track was set on the man-made snow loop only and is in excellent condition. The track on the rest of the lighted loop was set Friday evening and the upper trail set a few days before that so conditions vary from poor to good as some areas are severely worn while others are still holding up to heavy use. At this time there is no plan to reset the old track since the snow cover is thin with a few areas down to or near dirt. There is some small tree debris/litter from last weekends strong winds but it shouldn't cause much of a problem if any. Trail lights are on until 10 p.m. every night except on Sundays. - Brett Johanen, ranger
Kettle Moraine State Forest, Pike Lake Unit - Cross-country ski trails are in good condition with an approximate 4 inch base. Track was set on all ski loops. Snow depth has become shallow with spots of leaf material and bare areas. Hikers are allowed on the trails west of Powder Hill Road because of cross country ski trails are currently groomed. Winter hiking/snowshoe conditions include 6 inches of snow with patches of ice. Pets are not allowed on the Black Forest Nature Trail and must be on a leash 8 feet or less at all times in other areas. - Andrew Krueger, ranger
Kettle Moraine State Forest, Northern Unit - Cross-country ski trails skating lanes were groomed Feb. 19. The surface was very hard packed, only about a 2 inch base. There is starting to be a noticeable amount of debris on the trails in places. A couple of dirty spots showing in places. Nothing was done to the classic tracks. Skating lanes on the yellow, red and green are in fair to good condition. The tracks on these loops are in fair condition. The brown loop is fair for skating and classic. - Reagan Arndt, ranger
Kettle Moraine State Forest, Southern Unit - Cross-country ski trails were last groomed Feb. 14-15. McMiller skate lanes were groomed on Saturday evening and are in good or better condition. The classical track remains intact and is in good condition. There is a fair amount of debris that was knocked down by the wind onto the trail which detracts from the ski conditions. Still overall good skiing can be found and the warming shelter is open and warm. The skate lanes at Nordic were groomed Saturday night and are generally in good or better condition with a layer of loose snow on top of a hard base. With the wind there was a fair amount of debris, pine needles and cones, leaves and small twigs on the trail. The classic tracks were left in place with a variety of conditions. On the north loops (blue, green, red, orange) the track is full depth, and firm. Where the track is clean it is good classic skiing. Unfortunately there are sections that the track has lots of debris in it. On the White and Purple loops the track has been used more and it is showing wear getting widened and glazed in spots. It also has the same issues with debris. Still pretty good classic skiing, however. - Paul Sandgren, property supervisor
Lakeshore State Park - Anglers are having some success with trout and salmon along the river and dock wall on the south end of the park. Ice in the lagoons is thinning under the bridge and in the northern lagoon but is generally thicker in the south lagoon. Keep a safe distance from open water at the bridge and near the docks. No fishing is allowed off the marina docks. You can access the park from the park road that starts at Erie Street. Parking is available along the road. The turf areas of the park are generally wind-swept of snow. Snow cover has been retained in the prairie areas. The winter waterfowl have returned, including scaups, goldeneyes, buffleheads and mergansers. Snowy owls and snow buntings are regularly visitors. Watch for fox and other wildlife tracks in the snow and on the ice. The Department of Transportation will be closing the south park access road at the Hoan Bridge Friday, Feb 20 and Monday, Feb. 23 from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. for Hoan Bridge work. There will be flagmen posted during other hours, and the DOT is placing a large electric sign running the closure dates and times. - Thomas Kroeger, parks and recreation specialist, Milwaukee
Southern Lake Michigan fisheries team report - Compiled from creel clerks by Cheryl Masterson and Jeffrey Zinuticz, fisheries technicians, Milwaukee
Ozaukee County - The south end of the Port Washington harbor stays open over the winter due to the power plant discharge. This area provides a good open water fishing opportunity, and anglers there have been catching a few browns and rainbows. Spawn sacs remain the most effective bait.
Milwaukee County - In Milwaukee ice is impeding fishing in the harbor and river mouth. With cold weather in the forecast the rest of the week, the ice will likely continue to be an issue. When it becomes fishable again, the area under the Hoan Bridge should be producing a few browns and rainbows. Spawn, minnows, and Gulp are generally good baits to try. The fishing pier at the Oak Creek Power Plant is closed for the winter months, and it is scheduled to reopen on March 15.
Racine County - In Racine the harbor in Reefpoint Marina is mainly frozen over. There are aerators running near some docks, so be aware of varying ice depths. Anglers fishing in Reefpoint have been catching a few browns on minnows, spawn sacs, and jigging Gulp. A few rainbow trout and northerns should be in the area as well.
Waukesha DNR Service Center area
Waukesha County - Wildlife crews have been taking advantage of moderate snow levels to accomplish many brushing contracts. Your turkey stamp dollars are being put to good use at several wildlife areas including Vernon and Bloomfield. A contractor recently completed a wetland restoration project at Paradise Valley Wildlife Area. The work involved creating wildlife scrapes and restoring hydrology. We anticipate great benefits to waterfowl and waterbirds this spring. - Kelly VanBeek, wildlife biologist, Waukesha
Plymouth DNR Service Center area
Theresa Marsh State Wildlife Area - Several different bald eagles were reported around the area during the last couple weeks (just north of the Washington County line in Brownsville, Germantown, others). Deer and turkeys seem to be congregating around natural food sources or feeders in some areas, in some cases creating nuisance situations. Landowners are reminded that deer feeding is illegal in Washington County and in most other southern Wisconsin counties. Bird feeding is legal in those counties in most situations provided that the deer don't have access to the bird feed or spillage. Washington County snowmobile trails are still closed due to the lack of snow. Some ice fisherman have had success on Big Cedar Lake (bluegills, northerns and walleyes) and also on Pike Lake for perch and walleyes. Due to the frozen conditions ducks and other waterfowl are very concentrated in open water areas such as below dams and aerated ponds so now is still a great time to photograph them in their bright breeding plumage and watch their courtship rituals. An online chat about coyotes will be held from noon to 1 p.m. on Thursday, February 26. Consult the DNR website to find out how to sign up for the online chats. - Tom Isaac, wildlife biologist, Hartford
South Central Region
Dodgeville DNR Service Center area
Blue Mound State Park - Cross-country ski trails are in good condition. They were groomed and tracked on Feb. 13. There is no hiking, biking, snowshoeing or pets allowed on the ski trails. Please use the mountain bike trails. Call the park at 608-437-5711 for updated trail conditions. - Megan Helt-Baldwin, ranger-assistant property manager
Fitchburg DNR Service Center area
Jefferson County - There are good ice conditions on area lakes. Most lakes have between 14 and 20, or more, inches of ice. The fishing continues to be good on most lakes as well. Anglers have reported catching pike and walleye on Lake Koshkonong. However, timing the bite is difficult. Most report the best times are 1 to 2 hours before and after sunset. Ice anglers are asked to be sure to clean up after themselves. Wardens have received complaints of garbage being left on the ice. Items include cans, bags and paper, wood and fish carcasses after cleaning. Leaving waste on the ice is litter which affects all users on the ice and the health of our waters. Everyone is reminded if they have a fire on the ice all the debris (ash, unburned wood) needs to be cleaned up. Jefferson county snowmobile trails remain closed. - Ryan Ellifson, conservation warden, Jefferson County
Devil's Lake State Park - All in all, it's been a mild winter at Devil's Lake so far. No huge snows or blizzards, and only occasional temperatures below zero. Skiers and snowshoers have been able to go out in the last few weeks, but snow depth is still measured as just a few inches. Before you know it, spring will be returning along with the first of the migratory birds, so if you enjoy winter recreation, now is the time. People have been ice fishing and some have had pretty good luck with catching brown trout at the south end of the lake. Ski trails are open and in fair condition.
West Central Region
La Crosse DNR Service Center area
Wildcat Mountain State Park - Cross-country ski skate lanes were groomed and track set where windblown on Feb. 16. Trails were in fair to good condition. Thin areas here and there with a little debris form the weekends wind. - Robert E. Ramsey, park manager
Black River Falls DNR Service Center area
Black River State Forest - Temperatures this weekend are expected to be in the low teens to mid-20s with a chance of snow on Friday. Cross-country ski trails were packed and tracked on Wednesday Feb. 11.Trails remain in fair condition. Strong winds last weekend covered the trails in debris making for some rough areas. - Emily Alf, visitor services associate
Eau Claire DNR Service Center area
Chippewa County - Continued cold temperatures have brought us to the slow time of year, but it hasn't stopped people from getting out and enjoying the outdoors. Snowmobile trails have not opened yet, but snowmobilers have been able to get out on frozen lakes and enjoy some leisurely riding. Ski and snowshoe trails are open and conditions are good in the County Forest and State Park trails. People out hiking, skiing and snowshoeing have reported seeing several woodpecker species and song birds prevalently. Fishing is steady with fisherman consistently catching pan fish and walleyes jig fishing. The bite has been light and crappies have been preferring spikes on jigs compared to minnows. Raccoon and coyote trapping have come to an end, which leaves otter and beaver trapping open. - John Schreiber, conservation warden, Cornell
Wisconsin Rapids DNR Service Center area
Buckhorn State Park - Cross-country ski trails are groomed. Check out the new campground trail by connecting to it from the barrens/pond trail or park at the boat launch in the park. Remember, no pets on groomed ski trails. A timber sale is taking place in the Buckhorn Wildlife Area around the Partridge Trail and portion of Turkey Hollow Trail. Snowshoes are available to check out for free from the park office. Call ahead to check staffing of the office as staff may be out in the parks working. Reservations can be made on Reserve America for sites 47-105 in the new campground for the 2015 summer/fall. Drive in campsites, some pull through sites, shower/flush toilet building, two pit toilets for shoulder season use, and a dump station by the park office. Eight sites have electric, one is an accessible electric site. Sites 26-29 are also reservable and are tent/walk-in campsites only as they were renovated and constructed with some distance between sites. - Heather Wolf, park manager
Roche-A-Cri State Park - The main gate and campground are closed for the season. Parking is in the winter lot on Czech Ave. Park stickers are still required; please use the self-registration. Please do not park in front of the main gate. - Heather Wolf, park manager